Food is a God idea. Just like sex, beauty, companionship, intimacy, work – all these things were part of the Garden of Eden. God says that male and female were made in His image and that they were to co-rule over creation. A part of that creation’s purpose was/is to provide food. “And God saw all that He had made and it was very good.” (Genesis 1)
So food is a good, God idea. Even after the fall and the flood, God still provided food and expanded the menu to include more than plants and fruit. (Genesis 9)
But. Even before the new testament, where grace abounds, there are warnings against indulgence. Not for the health’s sake, but for the heart’s sake. When God told us, “Have no other gods before me,” He was trying to give us boundaries to thrive within. He was trying to tell us the secret of healthy hearts and bodies.
“Seek first the kingdom of God, and its righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In the Garden and today, the idea is for God to be rightly placed in our lives, and thus everything else falls into its rightful place.
One issue I take with almost all diet related programs is they do the “don’t touch” method. I am thinking of one friend who was so bound up in her weight and food mania that she planned out her very strict diet for the week. She would eat one meal, which did not satisfy her, and then she would immediately begin to obsess about her next snack or meal. Was she dependent on God, was she thankful, was she looking at her heart more than her scales?
The resolution is not more white knuckling. The issue is not eat less of this or that. The first issue is the condition of our hearts. What is God trying to tell us? When I was addicted to Diet Coke, it was my reward, my relief, my aspirin, my gold star. I used it when I was sad, mad, celebrating, or punishing myself. I had formed a kind of relationship with an object. And then God said, “I want you to come to Me for all these things.” When He showed me this, I fasted from Diet Coke for 30 days. I was amazed at just how entangled I was in this seemingly innocent indulgence. I had to learn to replace my habit with intimacy with God.
Why would He do that? Why even care? Because I was not wired to think about, dwell on, look forward to, depend on anything but God. Can I enjoy a Diet Coke now? Yes, but there is no emotion, no need to it. It is simply a drink. And it is a beautiful warning signal. When I “need” one, when I notice I have had too many, the Lord uses it to prick my heart: “Take a look Jana, how is your heart?”
So how is your heart?